With the snowy Iowa winter reminding me of the time I spent living in Russia, it seemed appropriate to occupy myself with a favorite Russian pastime: infusing vodka. Russian infused vodkas tend toward the savory (garlic, pepper) or berry flavors (lingonberry, black currant). I decided to stick with fruit flavors for this batch, settling on fig, grapefruit, and strawberry-pineapple. For the cleanest flavor, it’s best to use a vodka that is at least triple-distilled, but there’s no need to break the bank on really fine vodka. The natural sugars in the fruit will help mellow the alcohol’s flavor. I used the cheapest triple-distilled vodka I could find, which around here is Smirnoff.
The grapefruit vodka was nice mixed (especially with ginger beer and a wedge of lemon) but a little too light on its own. Next time, I’ll use more grapefruit zest for a stronger citrus flavor.
The strawberry-pineapple vodka was a friend’s idea, so I gave her the bottle for her birthday. The flavor was pure candy — intense and smooth, but just a little too sweet for my taste. Of the three choices, I preferred the fig vodka’s rich, earthy, complex flavor, equally delicious straight or mixed in a cocktail. There are a surprising number of fig cocktail recipes available online, but this one is my favorite. Na zdarovye!